Understanding 8 different types of leader

We know that not all leaders are alike.  Any amount of time spent in a team, working with other leaders, reveals differences in approach and style.  There are many different ways of categorising these differences.  One way is to consider levels of leadership (e.g. leading by doing or leading other leaders) as in this post.  Another way might be to look at functional roles within a team using a tool like Belbin.  All of these tools are different ways of cutting the same cake, and can be useful at different times.  Whichever tool is most appropriate, understanding leadership types is important in three key areas:

  • Self-awareness
    • Who am I really and equally importantly, who aren’t I?
  • Situational awareness
    • What does my organisation or team need right now?
  • Team building
    • Who do I need to complement me and those already on the team?

In an article on the HBR.org blog Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries outlines 8 archetypes of leadership that he has identified through observing leaders in his role as a coach.  Here they are:

  • The strategist: leadership as a game of chess. These people are good at dealing with developments in the organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organizational forms and generate future growth.
  • The change-catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity. These executives love messy situations. They are masters at re-engineering and creating new organizational ‘‘blueprints.’’
  • The transactor: leadership as deal making. These executives are great dealmakers. Skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities, they thrive on negotiations.
  • The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity. These executives dream of creating something and have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.
  • The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation. These people are focused on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.
  • The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency. These executives like organizations to be smoothly running, well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organization’s objectives.
  • The coach: leadership as a form of people development. These executives know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high performance cultures.
  • The communicator: leadership as stage management. These executives are great influencers, and have a considerable impact on their surroundings.

What insights to these 8 archetypes bring when considering your own leadership and the leadership of those around you?

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